The problem is the Padres have quite a few players at the corner outfield and first base position with Brian Giles, Adrian Gonzalez, Dave Roberts and Ben Johnson. However, when you have a career .885 minor league OPS, if you can find a way to get his bat into the lineup, you have to try. With that in mind San Diego embarked upon the grand experiment in spring training, see if he can play third base.
One problem, McAnulty had never played third base at any level professionally or in college.
So far this year, McAnulty has played his normal first base and both corner outfield spots. On May 3, the team decided he was ready for his debut at third base. And from June 4 through July 1, he saw action in 14 games at the hot corner.
According to Rich Burk, the voice of the Beavers, "Paul McAnulty shows signs of being a pretty good third baseman. He's made some outstanding plays over there, but can still commit an error on a routine play. Is he ready for third base in the big leagues? No yet. Can he get there over the next year? Possibly. I know he has the work ethic necessary to make improvements."
So what do the numbers say? He's still got some work to do. Put it this way as first baseman he has a .988 fielding percentage with five errors in 415 chances at third base its .886 with five errors in 44 chances.
Does he have a ways to go? Yes, is he quitting or discouraged?
You be the judge.
So how has it been going at third base? This is kind of an advanced level to begin playing there.
Paul McAnulty: I think its been going really well. Most people who have been playing there have been doing it for their whole careers, you know. I know I have a long way to go, but you know I'm starting to feel better over there everyday.
What has been the biggest problem for you so far at third base?
Paul McAnulty: The footwork, getting it right and being in a position to make the throw. It just takes a lot of time and repetitions to get it right.
Last year when we talked to you in Mobile and Portland, you talked about your routine before the game about trying to take as many balls as possible in the outfield to work on your jumps. What have you been doing to practice at third base?
Paul McAnulty: I've really been working hard at third base, which is where I spend most of my time now before the games. I try to take as many ground balls as possible and work to get my footwork right to make all type of throws.
I really don't even work that much at first or the outfield anymore. I'm trying to get as much time as possible at third. I don't really think that I have that much time to make it, so I'm trying to work on as much as I can.
Who has been helping you out the most with the transition to third base?
Paul McAnulty: A lot of people here. Dewey [Beavers manager Craig Colbert] has been great and really encouraging me. I can't say enough about our shortstop Manny Alexander who has a lot of experience has been great in helping me with my positioning.
How does playing a much more difficult defensive position affect your offense and vice-versa?
Paul McAnulty: It doesn't. I love to hit, and when I‘m at the plate I‘m in my own world. At bat its me against the other nine guys out there and I love to win. There is something about seeing that pitchers face when you hit a rope that you just can't replace.
As for taking the defense to the offense or the opposite, no it doesn't happen. You won't last long in this game if you do.
Can you see yourself playing third base for the Padres in 2007?
Paul McAnulty: Whatever the Padres decide to do and whatever it takes to get me to the major leagues I'm fine with. I love to play everyday and if that gets me into the lineup that is great.
Dewey said it can be done, and I'm going to keep working as hard as I can to make it happen.
Contact senior writer John Conniff at firstname.lastname@example.org